Editor’s Note: Hannah has officially joined The Rope staff–yay! She will be posting every Tuesday so be sure to check back with us at the beginning of each week. We’ll kick your week off right!
As a student, stress is in my daily routine. Some days I only stress about small things, like getting to class on time and finishing homework. But there are a few days, usually during exam time, where I wake up with stress and it follows me everywhere I go.
Now I’ve read a lot of articles and stories about how to eliminate the stress in your life. But let’s get real–that’s never going to happen. In order for me to completely purge my life of stress, I’d have to get rid of all of the stressors: classes, homework, my job—even church. That’s just not something I can realistically do. So I’ve had to figure out a way to manage my stress in a healthy way. Here’s what works for me.
Step One: Pray
When I’m looking at my calendar and my agenda and I see all of the things I have lined up to do, my brain usually enters freak out mode. At that moment, it’s best for me to just go to a private place and pray.
And I’m not talking about this kind of prayer: “Dear God, I am so stressed out, please cancel my classes for the next week so I can get caught up. That’d be awesome. Love you, bye.” It’s best to tell God why you’re stressed. And then listen. Usually Psalm 46:10 comes to mind as I start to listen. “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
At the end of prayers, I’m able to appreciate all of the opportunities God has given me and I have a clear mind to focus on what needs to be done.
Step Two: Divide and Conquer
I usually make a to-do list when I notice that a lot of things need to get done. Sometimes it can be a long list, and looking at it tends to speed up my heart rate. So I go through my list and I divide the list into manageable sections and I make smaller to-do lists on index cards. Then I focus on one index card at a time.
Being able to complete each mini list gives me a sense of accomplishment and allows me to narrow down what I’m focusing on.
Step Three: Reward System
Even with the fun-sized task lists, the workload can still weigh me down and stress me out. I try to set up an incentivizing program that has small rewards at the completion of each notecard.
Usually the reward is something simple that doesn’t take up a lot of my time. For example, when I’ve finished one baby list I take a 5 minute break to play a game of solitaire and when I’ve completed half of my overall, giant task list, I’ll go to dinner with friends.
The rewards are something I can look forward to at the end of each segment, other than the start of my next teeny list. It also gives my mind a vacation from all the work.
These steps are just a few of my ideas on managing stress. How do you do it? Tell me by leaving a comment below or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hannah, The Rope Contributor